Bringing the Endangered Bald Eagle back to Sonora, Mexico

August 07, 2019


Agnico Eagle has once again partnered with the governments of Mexico and the United States to protect the endangered bald eagle – an emblem of Agnico Eagle Mines Limited.

Agnico Eagle Mexico began working with the Commission of Ecology and Sustainable Development of the State of Sonora (CEDES) in 2017 to monitor and study the population of this majestic species, which has historically nested in the nearby Yaqui River Lake System. In addition to Agnico Eagle and CEDES, project supporters include the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 

Known as America’s national bird, the range of this powerful flyer includes most of Canada, the contiguous United States and northern Mexico. Last seen in Mexico 19 years ago, the bald eagle – known there as Aguila Calva – is considered to be in danger of extinction in the country.

The project team worked collaboratively to track the birds, with experts from AZGFD and USFWS training CEDES technical and scientific personnel on how to observe and evaluate bald eagle nests. Field trips to Sahuaripa and Soyopa in the Sierra of the State of Senora resulted in sightings of two pairs of bald eagles in the study area during 2018. One of the pairs was accompanied by an eaglet chick about two weeks old. 

CEDES expects to conclude its research study this July (2019) and will then present the project partners with a formal report on its research results. Going forward, CEDES hopes to extend its monitoring program to other regions of the hydrological basin of the Yaqui River. 

Gildardo Montenegro, Manager of Administration, Community Development and Environment for Agnico Eagle Mexico at our La India mine, says, “Not only does this project make sense for Agnico Eagle because of our heritage and culture, it also speaks to the value we place on stewarding and protecting the native wildlife and biodiversity in the mountains and towns that surround our operations. The results to date have been very encouraging and we will consider providing further support to promote the recovery of this great species in the State of Sonora and in Mexico.”

Eagle-eyed facts: Recent studies indicate that there are less than 20 known specimens of the bald eagle in Mexico in comparison to the much larger populations in Canada (approx. 40,000 eagles) and the United States (approx. 5,000).

Did you know…

  • The adult bald eagle is unmistakable with a dark brown body and a distinctive white head.
  • It takes 4 years for the young to reach adult plumage; juveniles have a dark brown head and body, with a little mottled white on the wings and tail, the older ones can have a white body.
  • The bald eagle can reach a length of one meter and a span greater than two meters, with full grown females being slightly larger than males.
  • The white-headed eagles spend a lot of time perched and motionless, observing the smallest movements that occur.
  • They are usually solitary birds however; they can concentrate in large numbers where there is some source of food.
  • The diet of the eagle is mainly fish; they usually do not pursue very evasive or large prey. Also part of their diet are some birds, including ducks and teals that are wintering in fishing areas, cormorants, white-winged doves and others, while small mammals make up the rest.
  • They nest in the trees and on the cliffs and a usual clutch includes two to three white or blue-white eggs. The incubation takes 31 to 45 days and is carried out by both parents.
  • The eagles chicks start to fly from 70 to 96 days old. Both the male and the female take care of their chicks and carry out the search for food.
  • The chicks leave the nest at the age of ten to thirteen weeks.